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Australia’s SproutX to set up Victoria’s first AgTech Hub in Mildura

Australia’s SproutX to set up Victoria’s first AgTech Hub in Mildura

According
to an
announcement
made by the Victorian Government, Australia’s leading national
agtech innovation hub SproutX launched its first Australian regional hub in
Mildura.

In partnership with Mildura Regional Development (MRD),
SproutX will open a co-working space at The Mill – Mildura’s newly established
innovation space – and will mobilise a community to support startups in the
agricultural space in the region. The project aims to inspire the next
generation of entrepreneurs across the Mallee region.

According to Member
for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp, Mildura is a rich agricultural area in which farmers
will increasingly rely on technology to manage their businesses sustainably
into the future.

Acknowledging
the value and important to invest in digital economy, the Victoria Government was
the first government in Australia to support the SproutX initiative.

“We have supported
SproutX since day one and are thrilled to see the team expand their footprint
into regional Victoria,” said Minister for Agriculture Jaala
Pulford.

The Connecting Regional Communities program
includes a $12 million initiative to conduct an on-farm Internet of Things (IoT)
trial in the areas surrounding Maffra, Tatura, Birchip and Serpentine. This
trial is an important step in maximising technology to help provide Victorian
agriculture with a competitive advantage on a global scale.

SproutX
started as an idea for collaboration between Findex and the National Farmers
Federation. The idea was then supported by the Australian Government which
contributed A$1 million to establish SproutX in 2016.

Today,
SproutX grew into a Victorian-based AgTech accelerator program and national
co-working space network. It aims to fast-track the development of innovative
ideas and technologies as well as source venture capital to support
commercialisation.

“SproutX is a great
example of how industry and government can help support innovators and new
agriculture participants who would typically be beyond the reach of regular
support programs,” said Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford.

Since its launch in 2016, SproutX has had more than 50
people participate in their programs and has worked with more than 200 agtech
start-ups. Participants develop business skills, learn start-up principles,
have access to industry mentors, establish AgTech networks and gain
opportunities to pitch their innovations to potential investors.

Credit: SproutX

In its 2017 portfolio, SproutX has 11 teams in its 2017 Accelerator
Programme
. They include:

(1)   
Applant which created the world’s first
human-pumped, aeroponic vertical garden, aTree. aTree uses 95% less water than
traditional growing methods and does not require soil or electricity. It grows
fresh, pesticide-free produce, indoors and out, in hyper-local environments for
families and communities.

(2)   
Farmapp which is revolutionising food production
management by helping growers embrace technology. Farmapp has developed an
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) software-based service for crops. The software
includes a combination of scouting and fumigation apps with sensors and brings
automation (IOT) devices to the agriculture sector.

(3)   
IoTAg which enriches farmers’ lives with
exponential technology. Its maiden product — a smart cattle ear tag — enables
cattle farmers to track cattle over large distances, monitor for key
breeding-related events, as well as alerts them to illnesses and births. All of
this, ultimately helps take risk out of farming and make better agri-financing
possible.

(4)   
OutofBox Solutions which aims to build Smart
Monitoring solutions using the latest technology to improve Livestock health
and well-being. The first product as part of the company’s launch plan will
focus on smart-foot inspection.

(5)   
A smart trap developed by Snaptrap to automate
fruit fly surveillance. It eliminates costs including time, travel, waste, by
providing concise, real-time decision information remotely. It makes
interventions more accurate and cheap, and supports market access efforts.

(6)   
Water Save which delivers an affordable,
automated farm irrigation solution that can be monitored from anywhere in the
world. Whilst reducing costs by up to 20&, the platform can build in
machine learning to monitor & reduce the level of chemicals applied to
crops. This is critical in regions such as Queensland, where outputs severely
impact waterways leading to The Great Barrier Reef.

The organisation has also developed an international
reputation and is nominated for a Global Innovation Award at the upcoming World
Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco.